Urban Sustainability as a tool of assessment and development of public spaces in Palestine Case Study: Martyr’s Square in Nablus City
هيثم الرطروط, خالد قمحية
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In Palestinian cities, there is a clear shortage of green areas, squares, sidewalks and street furniture, especially in city centers which are congested with vehicles that are associated with accidents, noise and air pollution. Besides the critical situation the Palestinian cities experience under the Israeli occupation, these reasons call for adopting a sustainable approach to guide the quality measurement of public spaces towards development that enhances their positive impacts and overcomes their weaknesses with a view to improve their users’ experience. The Martyrs’ Square, the main public space in Nablus city was chosen to be evaluated in this research as a case study with reference to sustainability criteria in public spaces. By means of the DELPHI method, (HPPS by Barth) criteria were refined, and revealed the significant social role the Palestinian public space should deliver, followed by the economic and the environmental roles respectively. The implementation of the refined criteria had combined the subjective approach through a questionnaire that targeted the Martyrs’ Square users and the employees of Nablus municipality, with the objective approach for comparison. The results of this research showed that the Martyr’s Square was more economically achievable in comparison with the social and the environmental levels, and manifested the main causes of its’ social and environmental decline with prioritizing them as; major causes including: traffic congestion, low level of cleanliness, lack of basic services and unavailability of designated spaces for holding events and practicing activities. In addition to sub-causes including: the high dB levels, polluted air, poor maintenance and Lack of environmental awareness promoting aspects. On the other hand, the study revealed some opportunities that can be invested and promoted, such as: the clear users’ tendency towards the environmental friendly notions and the municipality staff resemblance of users’ trends that can be beneficial in terms of representing users’ needs. Recommendations and proposals were accordingly presented to address the concluded issues.